Introduction to AbiWord

The AbiWord project began as a desire to create a stable, feature-savvy word processor unbound by a single platform or proprietary file formats. Today AbiWord compiles as a native application on a wide collection of computers and can handle an equally impressive number of file formats. In addition, AbiWord's feature set includes most everything one would expect in a modern word processor, plus numerous ground-breaking and advanced features allowing it to compete with many proprietary word processors successfully. A short list of features includes:

  1.  A familiar interface
  2.  Outstanding file import and export, with support for MS Word, WordPerfect, and more
  3.  Unlimited undo and redo capacity
  4.  Solid (X)HTML export, with CSS styles support
  5.  Images
  6.  Spelling support, with optional underlining
  7.  Bullets and Lists
  8.  Styles
  9. Table of Contents generation and customization through the Stylist
  10. Complete, intuitive revisions-tracking support
  11. Nested tables support, nearly unmatched in the field
  12. Mail merge
  13. Bidirectional text support
  14. Command-line and server use modes for document processing capabilities

One of the most lasting differences between AbiWord and most word processors is the default file format. Unlike documents saved normally in many competing word-processors,  document saved with AbiWord is written in plainly readable text with XML markup, making it possible to use any text editor to view AbiWord documents. With this style of data storage, you can feel assured that your precious data is safe and readable, even without using the original AbiWord program that created it. Users are even free to create their own program to parse the AbiWord markup and extract data from it. No matter how AbiWord is used, users can be sure that their important data is well kept. Additionally, because of the Open Source nature of the AbiWord project, the longevity of documents is ensured by the presence of AbiWord's source code, its active development, and constant improvement.

Lastly, AbiWord is completely free and multi-platform. It functions as a native application for Linux (X11), Linux (GNOME), Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, and XP, QNX, and MacOS X "Cocoa".

The Open Source Concept

AbiWord is developed as an Open Source project. That means the lines of code that comprise AbiWord are freely available and re-distributable. Unlike proprietary software, code that is written and often kept secret by a select few, Open Source projects like AbiWord give away the code and the software is thus subjected to thorough peer review by programmers all over the world.

In general, most users do not benefit directly by the availability of the source code. Instead, the greatest benefits of Open Source to the end user are an open environment where anyone can suggest changes, stability, permanence (Open Source projects do not disappear like proprietary applications do when companies fold), fast-paced improvements, and zero entry cost.

Please feel free to visit to learn more about the benefits inherent in using on Open Source software.

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